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Britain votes to leave the EU

The legal sector is reeling this morning at the news that Britain has voted to exit the European Union, as legal IT heads urge rational reflection.

The legal sector is reeling this morning at the news that Britain has voted to exit the European Union, as legal IT heads urge rational reflection.

While businesses are still processing the news, which came as an unwelcome surprise to many in the City – the only region in England that voted to remain in Europe – at Peppermint Technology, founder and CEO Arlene Adams said: “I will say I’m surprised by the vote – but know I’m not alone. The one thing this referendum reinforces is that change is the only constant. More than ever this shows law firms have to be robust. They can’t rely on others to predict their future. They have to accept it’s down to them.

“Whatever your personal vote, as business leaders our responsibility is to our employees and customers to make the most of our environment. It’s our role to reach for the positive and play our part in protecting the great in Great Britain – our efforts will continue to go into ensuring we make our businesses strong and robust, and that we continue to deliver success for our customers.”

Shares have plunged and privately many leading figures in the legal IT world have given an early emotional response to the decision to exit, with one MD at a leading international software supplier simply saying: “We’re screwed.” Another well-known figure in the UK legal technology sector said: “Personally I’m gutted for my children and all their friends who voted to stay.”

At contract lawyer provider Obelisk, founder and CEO Dana Denis-Smith tweeted: “Most tech is built offshore where there are coders and skills we simply don’t have here. Will set back advance.”

A number of outsider business heads are taking a sanguine stance. Robert Fraser, director at Trinogy Systems based in Sydney, predicts that there will be less fallout than many are forecasting. “As we are part of the legacy commonwealth I doubt I will be refused entry into the UK and our business there will grow based on the service we provide. If it’s better service than our competitors it will grow, if it’s not we will not survive,” he said. “Our clients are across many sectors, if one dips another will rise, and so it may be with the economy generally,” he said.

Adams added: ” When I set up Peppermint 6 years ago I felt strongly that law firms need to embrace technology as a way of ensuring they could compete and thrive. Never more than today is that true. Law firms need to set a strategy to build their own success and their own future – whatever the market environment – and that strategy will always centre on them being the law firm that their clients want them to be. That’s how you protect your business in an uncertain environment, and for that very reason technology has never been more important.”

More to follow.


One reply on “Britain votes to leave the EU”

We’ve also received some for legal/data protection type comment from law firms…

Dan Tench, Head of Public Law at Olswang said;

“Today will be a day largely of shock for the business community as it begins to take stock of the referendum result. Ultimately, the outcome could have very significant legal consequences for business, but these are a long way down the track. The most likely immediate effects on businesses will be economic and in respect of investment and the value of sterling. We have identified ten issues for our clients to start to consider today ranging from these economic effects to their contractual position to the potential changes in substantive law. But with the political situation so uncertain, this remains very much a watching brief.”

Dan’s full insights here:

The firm has also produced analysis on the media, film and TV sectors as well, which is available here:

Olswang Partner John Enser said:

“While Brexit will be disruptive and the results uncertain, at least there is another Treaty already in place which should guarantee that UK content still qualifies as “European Works” for quota purposes and which will prevent other EU states from blocking or applying local regulation to Ofcom licensed broadcast services.”


Nicola Fulford, Data Protection lawyer at Kemp Little comments on the likely impact of Brexit on the laws and practice of dealing with personal data in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum vote.

“Immediately, there will be no change to obligations as the Data Protection Act 1998 is a UK statute. In general terms, a weakening of data protection laws is unlikely given the general direction of much of the rest of the world towards greater levels of data privacy. More specifically, on leaving the EU – likely in the next 2 years – the UK would have to apply for an ‘adequacy’ decision to keep flows of data moving freely from EU countries, and therefore to continue trading in the digital world.

In less than 2 years, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in the EU – even if the UK has already left the EU by that stage. The UK’s laws would have to match those higher standards of the GDPR, in order either to obtain and maintain an ‘adequacy’ decision, or to join the European Free Trade Association; an there will in any case be direct compliance obligations under the GDPR for those entities with EU customers. It is therefore unlikely that, either in the short, medium or long term, Brexit will result in a material departure of UK law and practice from EU law in relation to the use and protection of personal data.”

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